Australian record sales hit a 16-year high + all the biggest Australian music industry headlines

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Australian record sales hit a 16-year high + all the biggest Australian music industry headlines

Words by Christie Eliezer

Read the latest Australian music industry news - from Labor's music industry chats ahead of the NSW election to the expanded The Great Escape lineup.

Been out of the loop with everything that’s been going on in Australian music industry news recently? We don’t blame you. Here’s a wrap-up of all the biggest Aussie music biz stories from the past fortnight.

The top headlines:

  • Australian record sales hit a 16-year high
  • Adelaide Fringe becomes the first Australian festival to hit 1 million ticket sales
  • Global recorded music revenues reached US$31.2 billion in 2022

Aussie Recorded Music Hit 16 Year High In 2022

Australian recorded music sales hit a 16-year high in 2022, according to wholesale figures released this week by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA).

It reached $609.6 million in 2022, up 7.4% from $567.8 million in 2021, a growth ARIA said beat major markets as the USA, the UK and France.

Streaming and vinyl albums are once again the key drivers of growth in Australia, as subscription streaming services rose 8.9% to $410.7 million, comprising 67.4% of the industry. 

Video streaming experienced an even larger growth margin of 10.5%, reaching $60.7 million.

Subscription streaming services accounted for 74.5% of total digital sales in 2022, as download sales fell 17.7% to $19.2 million. 

Despite this, total digital sales were up 7.8% to $551.3 million, representing 90.4% of all music sales – more than 50% higher than sales figures a decade ago. 

Vinyl albums continued their growth, jumping nearly 23% to $36.9 million, making them the fastest growing category. 

Vinyl accounted for 63.4% of total physical sales in 2022 by dollar value and 36.2% of physical sales by volume.

Labor Chinwags With Music Biz Before NSW Elections

With polls suggesting Labor will bag a massive win in this weekend’s NSW elections, the music biz is drooling over a dream pairing.

That is, the new NSW arts minister John Graham would be working closely with another music savant – Federal Arts Minister Tony Burke.

Last Thursday Graham met with execs (face to face & online) at the United Workers Union in Glebe to discuss how to spend the  $103 million NSW Labor committing to contemporary music.

The panel included artist KLP, Laneway GM Jessie Parker and Century Venues’ COO Sam Nardo.

Among ideas suggested were a review of the controversial Music Festival Act 2019, a census to check the temperature of the live sector, working with the Federal Government to raise radio quotas for Australian artists, using empty government spaces for music, extra funding for community radio, increase skills in the production sector and more funding for venues.

Graham emphasised a priority was to increase the number of music venues from its current 133 – with “a decade of lockouts and lockdowns taking its toll.”

Vivid and Destination NSW would be given “a good shake-up” and have to liaise more with music promoters and venues.

A 10-year contemporary music strategy called Sound NSW would work with Create NSW, and with a specific Western Sydney focus.

There’ll be funding of up to $250,000 to scope out permanent outdoor festival and concert.

$4 million is pledged to tackle bullying and harassment in the entertainment industry, and $2 million over four years to Support Act.

Under a NSW Labor government every performance that receives public funding will need to comply with a code of conduct.  

Great Southern Nights is guaranteed for another four years, and with a new precinct-based approach, activating Parramatta as key precinct.

Adelaide Fringe Hits 1M Tickets

Adelaide Fringe became the first Australian festival to hit 1 million ticket sales, hitting the magic mark at 10.01pm on its final night.

The final total of 1,000,916 had a box office value of $25.17 million – which will result in $23.9 million being paid out in box office to Fringe artists and venues.

Fringe saw over three million attend across the 2023 season of free and ticketed performances, with 1900 of the 1280 shows sold out.

Report #1: Global Recorded Music Biz Is $31.2B

Global recorded music revenues reached US$31.2 billion in 2022, said a report published by UK-based Midia Research on March 16.

But a negative: it just grew by 6.7% from the previous year, compared to 24.8% in 2021.

Midia explained this as “the wider trend of the cost-of-living crisis… rising interest rates softening music catalogue M+A demand and the long expected streaming slowdown kicking in”. 

Publishing grew by 16.6% in 2022 while streaming was up 8.3% (equivalent of an extra $1.5 billion) to $20 billion.

Report #2: Western Sydney Arts Gets Less Funding

A new report by Western Sydney University’s Centre for Western Sydney highlights how Western Sydney gets far less federal and NSW funding than Eastern Sydney despite the Westies being the hardest hit by COVID-19 lockdowns.

State of the Arts in Western Sydney revealed Western Sydney represents 10% of Australians, yet only received 3.4% of federal funds between 2015-2023, while Eastern Sydney received 23%.

Lead researcher Dr Rhonda Itaoui said, “Western Sydney received $22.3 million in COVID-19 relief funding awarded by the state government through Create NSW, compared with $161 million awarded to Eastern Sydney. 

“At a federal level, the West received $3.4 million of the total funds allocated to economic recovery funding, Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE), while Eastern Sydney received $49.6 million.”

Recommendations to address the disparity between Eastern and Western Sydney’s art sectors include advocating for better funding, transport connectivity, skills shortages, and tertiary education offerings for creative and performing arts in the Western Sydney region. 

It called for investment in creative infrastructure such as cultural, rehearsal and studio spaces, as well as supporting the extensive operational costs required to sustain and build capacity in small to medium arts and music organisations.

Download the report here.

Falls Lorne Site For Sale

Weeks after the Marion Bay farm that hosted Falls Tasmania went on the market, the festival’s home in Lorne, Victoria, is up for sale.

The 58ha rural property at 985 Erskine Falls Rd is going for close to $4 million and comes with a farmhouse, the stage, the mixing desk’s shelter, a warehouse and a helipad.

Artist For Archie & Ruby Statue Chosen

Melbourne artist Darien Pullen, the artist chosen to create the artwork of the Archie Roach & Ruby Hunter statue, also did Michael Gudinski’s statue outside Rod Laver Arena.

The decision was made by the Roach family, the Wurunderji Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation and Yarra City Council.

Pullen will work with Fitzroy-based foundry Meridian Sculpture to bring the artwork to life. It will be installed in Fitzroy later this year.

Enmore Precinct To Become Permanent?

The signs are that the trial for the Enmore Road precinct could become permanent, with the local council’s planning division recommending it.

This followed a survey of residents where 91% agreed the area become an enduring precinct, and feedback from businesses that some increased trade and one introduced live music.

The pilot, originally to run September to November 2022, is extended to July 31 2023. 

The Write-Stuff

The Australia Council is offering four music journalists travel bursaries worth $3,000 each to get to music events abroad attended by Australian artists and executives to create more content about Australian stories and experiences discoverable on the global market.

The Oz Council’s head of music, Kirsty Rivers, said it recognised the importance of music journalism, noting upskilling projects as Music Writers’ Lab at BIGSOUND and Womadelaide and Wikimedia at The Australian Music Project.

Last Drinks For Music Venues

Despite efforts by patrons, Newcastle’s Cambridge Hotel, is closing mid-year to make way for student accommodation.

Peak Wine Bar in Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast, closed after 16 years  and appointed a liquidator reportedly owing $600,000, including $280,000 to the tax office.

Adelaide’s hip hop Precinct Nightclub closed after 12 months over $37,786.07 in unpaid rent.

Rival nightclubs Red Square and Zhivago gleefully shed crocodile tears, holding “wakes” with $3 vodkas and asking the 70-strong staff who’d been caught unaware to apply with them.

The Great Club in Marrickville, Sydney, is crowd-funding as it’s facing a $250 000 bill to upgrade sound proofing to shut up complaints from neighbours which might close it down.

But it’s not all Unsmiley Face. Wollongong’s Harp Hotel and Mr Crown had a win against noise complaints after Liquor and Gaming NSW found “insufficient evidence” that they unduly disturbed the neighbourhood.

SuperFly Studios on McLachlan St in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley introduced live music until 3 am on weekends, like sister venues Brooklyn Standard and Suzie Wong’s.

The team behind Sydney’s Lansdowne Hotel opened The Shaking Hand (or Shakes) in Canberra on Akuna Street, inspired by L.A.’s Viper Room and Rainbow Bar.

The Lady Hampshire in in Camperdown, Sydney, was re-opened as a devoted live music space by PUBLIC Hospitality Group which also runs Oxford House, The Strand and The Norfolk.

APRA Awards Announce Hosts, MD

As the APRA Awards get set to stage on Thursday April 27 at ICC Sydney/ Gadigal land, Franc Tétaz returns as musical director.

Three new hosts are singer and broadcaster Henry Wagons, comedian/ actor Celia Pacquola and Butchulla songman Fred Leone.

Nominees are revealed on Thursday March 30.

More Aussies For The Great Escape

Among the 150 latest names to strut before salivating execs and open cheques at the UK’s The Great Escape were, our own Mo’Ju, Jem Cassar-Daley, C.O.F.F.I.N, Cap Carter, Eat Your Heart Out, Viji, Cassidy Mann, Cate, Chanel Loren, Civic, Dust and Penelope Trappes.

Find tickets to the 2023 Adelaide Fringe Festival here.